Knowledge.

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  1. What do Bill Lumbergh and Warren Buffett have in common?

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    I have always thought of fictional Bill Lumbergh as a middle management puppet.  As I reexamine I see him more as a Warren Buffett disciple.  Lumbergh was smart enough to bring in a pair of consultants to analyze his company, Initech.  As part of his introduction of the consultants(the Bobs) to his employees a banner is hung and the buzz phrase is established.

     

    With every decision you make is this good for the company?  



    I don’t think this cinematic excellence pushed me down that path but, now I am one of the Bobs.   My business partner and I have a strong distaste for Michael Bolton music.

     

    As simple as the phrase is we often see making decisions that are good for the company isn’t easy.  Warren Buffett writes about a concept that he calls the “institutional imperative”. The premise is any institution’s inherent propensity to do dumb things simply for the sake of doing them. In his 1989 shareholder letter to investors, Buffett opines:

     

    “I thought then that decent, intelligent, and experienced managers would automatically make rational business decisions. But I learned over time that isn’t so. Instead, rationality frequently wilts when the institutional imperative comes into play.”

    The institutional imperative can take many forms.  

     

    Publicly traded companies who overly focus on the current stock price, often pressuring Wall Street analysts about their investment rating, are all part of the institutional imperative. Focusing on the stock price or caring about Wall Street’s investment rating is counterproductive. This behavior creates a major distraction for company management from focusing on what is important— running the business.

     

    We see it with financial services companies and insurance agencies.  Their top priority is getting new clients.  It is #2 as well.  Is that new client going to be as profitable as an existing client?  Have you maximized your existing portfolio?  Have you as the owner improved your expertise and given the same mandate for your employees?  The focus is on the wrong thing.  It starts at the top.

     

    This seems to be particularly true if the institution in question is a bank. Take, for instance, the industry’s love affair with auto leasing back in the 1990s. For a while, the business generated solid returns. Then, as is to be expected, competition intensified and returns fell to unacceptably low levels. Did most banks curtail originations or exit the business when profits began to dry up? Nope. Most hung on doggedly until profits turned into losses that eventually proved ruinous. Board members should insist on being regularly briefed on the profitability levels of various product lines and market segments, and should encourage management to make any needed changes before profit levels become unacceptable.

    Maybe this is a stretch but, I never would have pegged Bill Lumbergh as a forward thinker.  He clearly had to intuition to bring in a consultant group to better assess his company.  Was he too close to situation to truly gage company efficiency?  Perhaps.  Was he a Warren Buffett protege implementing Berkshire Hathaway’s approach to business?  Signs point to yes.

  2. The Improbability of Practicality

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    I want to have a round table exchange with those few of you all who run across my internet leavings.  Since I was a kid, I’ve had a contempt for things that seemed impractical and irrational.  I’ve also desired to know why these things that seemed idiotic to me were in practice.  I asked often, but received a lot of those answers like… “Because it’s always been that way.” or .. “If it ain’t broke..”


    Here are a few of the impractical things that bothered me as a kid.  Daylight Savings Time, Neckties, Itchy Sweaters, Standing in Lines….


    Let’s talk about neckties for a second.  This article of clothing makes about as much sense as a powdered wig.  Maybe less.  You know what does make sense?  A bib.  Babies and lobster eaters wear those with some measure of success in keeping their shirts clean.  Ties take longer to get around your neck and only guard a small portion of your shirt.  They’re uncomfortable, and restrictive and they cut off oxygen to your brain, which makes you stupid.  I have no concrete proof of the stupidity but I have met many tie wearing dummies.  And anecdotal evidence counts for the purpose of this article.


    Let’s say it takes 2 minutes to tie one and you wear it to work for 50 weeks per year.  That means that you are wasting 500 minutes per year putting on a tie.  Seems pretty dumb to me.  Look up the origin of the neck tie if you don’t know it.


    Here are a few of the things that bother me now…some more than others.  Daylight Savings Time, Neckties, I can wear whatever I want so the sweaters don’t bother me, Standing in lines, Interactions with scripted worker bees, red and green on port-a-potties but not on bathroom stalls (my wife’s gripe), Cranberry Sauce, Car Speedometers, Banker’s hours, Settled science,  Double doors and one is locked, This page is intentionally left blank, Bad Grammar, Backing into parking spots, Irrational fears, vanity, The cable and internet bill creeping up while new customers pay half, talking to the scripted cable company worker bees.  There are many more.


    I better say that there are lots of impractical things (by some measure) that have value, like art and sports, but we accept that because these things entertain and inspire.  And they are fun.  We need fun in our lives.


    Daylight savings time.  What benefit could it possibly have nowadays?  Time is relative, so just pick a number that matches where the Earth is, in relation to the Sun and stick to it.


    Cranberry sauce.  I have no problem with it at all, but why is it only served at holidays?  It actually makes a pretty good “poor man’s currant jelly.”  It’s good on venison and pork.


    Speedometers.  I drive a ford explorer.  I doubt it can achieve 160 mph.


    Banker’s hours.  Let the bankers have those.  Otherwise work should be performed at each individual’s most efficient time of day.  What’s so special about the hours of 9-5 that work must be performed then?  What if you want to get done early or start late so you can do something else in the same day?  Inflexibility stifles productivity. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwDMFOLIHxU


    Settled Science.  During 90% of our recorded history, the Earth was flat.  50 years ago, smoking cigarettes was good for you but cannabis would kill you and make you kill others, 40 years ago, Time and Newsweek printed articles on Global Cooling, yet many people still use the words “settled science.”


    This page is intentionally left blank.  No it isn’t.  It has “This page is intentionally left blank.” written on it.  And why do you hate trees?


    Double doors and one is locked.  Is this a candid camera trap or something?


    Backing into Parking Spots.  How could this possibly make sense unless you are planning a quick getaway with your stolen merch?  These people are like the ones who are lurking around the parking lot for a better spot.  For what?  Are you planning on buying an anvil?  Because if you are trying to save time, well, you aren’t.


    We don’t have to accept any of this “that’s just the way it is” bullshit.  We can eat ice cream for breakfast or have a beer at 4:49.  We can make changes to things that make no sense to us or just ignore them.  Every time I pull into my driveway, I wonder why the hell I bought a house that has 8 different roof lines.  I don’t recall having a few thousand extra dollars burning a hole in my pocket that I couldn’t wait to spend on impractical architecture, but here I sit.

     

    Tell me about the things that make no sense to you.  And let’s talk about how to change them.
  3. Why Aflac Agents Are Throwing Away So Much Money

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    Ladies and Gents of Aflac, first let me say that you are some of the most fearless, hardest working people in the insurance business.  I really like being around you all and I respect you.  If you have made it through the first couple of years and are making a good living then you’ve dealt with enough rejection to make a lesser person suicidal.  It also means that you have a gift.  You understand people and you know what motivates them.


    Recently, I did some work with an owner of a local company that has about 50 employees.  As I was asking about their benefits, he mentioned that he had an Aflac agent who had been servicing the company for a couple of years in addition to the group health broker.  The company owner seemed to like both the health insurance broker and the Aflac agent.  There were a couple of employees who had made claims and received benefits, which definitely makes the risk feel more real to those who were not participating in any of the Aflac plans.  This meant that the agent was able to get back in there and enroll more employees the next time he was through the door.


    The business owner, who is generally more accessible and friendly than many of his peers in business had even sat down with the Aflac guy, though he told me that “they really didn’t have what I needed.”


    So let me get right to the point.  What he did need was a simple review of his current personal insurance, some legacy planning suggestions and some help in identifying a business income risk due to loss of key people.  All of this took me very little time to accomplish and the result was great client satisfaction and much more commission than was earned by the Aflac guy….about $44,000 to be exact.  I am not telling you this to brag.  I consider myself lucky that the Aflac agent did not have the tools to get this done.  He certainly had the relationship, which is the hardest part.


    So if this was so easy to accomplish, then why didn’t the Aflac agent do it?  There are 3 simple answers to this question.


    1. He did not understand the potential.  In a 50 person company, the Aflac agent usually only focuses on the rank and file employees and what they will buy.  Each employee may be a potential of $200 in commission.  Get 15 people to buy from you and you’ve had a great day.  What you’re missing is that the earnings potential is easily 10 times that amount if you understand where to look.


    1. He did not know the next few questions to ask.  And this is simply because he never learned the next few questions.  Aflac agents are independent, which means they can sell other company’s’ insurance products.  But, how would it benefit Aflac to train their sales force to sell something that Aflac doesn’t have?


    1. No marketplace for the higher end buyers.  Contracts with the right carriers are easy to get.  Wholesalers are falling over themselves to give away brokerage contracts that give you access to the whole world of Life and Disability carriers.  They are not all created equal.  Some come pretty much bare bones, while others come with a ton of great service.


    You may be asking… Why would he reveal all this?  The reason is that the life insurance industry is so under-served that I decided to build a new consulting program, just for Independent Aflac Agents.


    We have already built 2 successful platforms for Wealth Managers and Property and Casualty agents.  Even though this is more specifically targeted, I already know this platform has the most revenue potential of the three.  This is because of a proprietary formula we use to measure measure income potential.  Aflac agents consistently score a higher number. The average lost potential revenue is well over $100,000 per agent.  Hey, it’s not all about the money either.  Each dollar you earn can be traced back to a person you helped.


    Use this link http://www.meetme.so/insuranceprofessor1 to sign up for a spot on my calendar. We will have 20 minute call where I will tell you how the formula works. I will also reveal some of the strategies my clients are using with great success.


    P.S.  This program is for experienced agents only.  We ask that you have a minimum of 1 year experience before signing up for the call.


    P.P.S.  One of the first questions I am often asked is, “Do you still sell insurance?”  The answer is YES and I do not plan to stop.  Here is why.  Most sales coaches, trainers, consultants gave up a career in sales to teach.  The problem is that trends change.  What worked 5 years ago may not work today.  I stay in the business because I like it and so I can keep my material fresh and current.


    Kind Regards,


    Justin Stainback
    Insurance Professor
  4. Maya Angelou, Sales Genius.

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    I have been thinking about some of my consulting clients who seem to have difficulty separating the client’s desire for information from their own.  Some of my consulting clients are natural sponges of information.  This is what attracted them to us in the first place.  What I see happening sometimes is that we are focusing too much on information and not on how the client feels.

    We all have clients who place a lot of value on the experience of learning something that they think they would not have learned from another salesman.  In this regard, the scarcity of this information is what makes it valuable.  But, once trust has been earned, spending more time getting deeper in the weeds gives you a diminishing return.

    A client can only retain so much, so giving away more than a practical amount of information can end up reducing your chance to make the sale.  This amount of information is different for everyone.  Five minutes of education may be perfect for some clients where others need thirty minutes or more.  I would contend that very few people ever want or need more than 45 minutes of solid information to decide to work with you.  I personally try to limit the info dump to around 15 minutes.

    But why do people really buy from you and keep on buying from you?  They buy from you because of the way they feel when they interact with you.  Maya Angelou said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

    Did you know it has been proven that Doctors with good bedside manner have healthier patients?  This is because anxiety is so bad for you.  Doctors who you like, lower your anxiety and the ones you don’t like raise your anxiety.

    So what is the best way to make your client feel?  If someone pinned me down on it, I would tell them that i want my clients to feel at ease.

    Remember though, that we want the clients to take action.  It is our job to make that happen.  So we want the client to feel at ease before, during and after taking action.

    -Inurance Professor

    https://brevityconsult.com/

  5. Empathy and The Golden Rule in Selling

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    Empathy and The Golden Rule in Selling

     

    I’ve been exploring the ideas of Empathy and The Golden Rule in selling.  I think that the professional salesperson has to demonstrate one and abide by the other in order to have the right kind of career over a long period of time.  

    empathy

    To be empathetic is to have the ability to feel what someone else is feeling or to recognize another’s emotions.  This ability is essential to doing good business if you are in sales.  The very best salespeople are only inhibited by sales scripts because they have the ability to figure out each individual buyer.  We all know the classic and very trite car salesman line…”What’s it going to take to get you into this car today?”… Well, the very best salespeople can see through the client’s eyes and walk in his or her shoes and thus could just ask “What would it take for me to buy this car today?”

     

     

    There is a perfect kind of language that raises the odds of selling to each individual person or couple.  The most empathetic salespeople can figure it out.  This comes naturally to some salespeople, but for others it must be studied.  Just as a Psychologist spends 10 years in college to be able to relate to people, a salesman can study enough material to learn empathy.  There are seemingly endless books on the subject.  You have to be able to understand what your client is feeling in order to pick up on the subtle clues that are like a breadcrumb trail that leads you to the close.  

     

    So here’s the danger to the client.  Some of the best salespeople can show empathy but be completely amoral.  You know these kinds of salespeople, or at least you’ve seen them in movies like “Boiler Room,” “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “Glengarry Glen Ross.”  If you haven’t seen these movies, go and watch them all.  These people are real and they are out there folks.  I once heard a guy say “I didn’t get in this business to save the world.  I can do that when I have money.”

     

    Empathy and The Golden Rule in Selling – Video

     

    The most skilled salespeople can sell inferior products to clients.  They can also sell a good product at an unfair price.  What can happen is that a person can be so well trained at selling that the client would literally buy something that makes no financial sense.  For example, my business is life insurance.  I have worked with many clients over the years who bought policies for 30+% more than market cost even though the agent had access to lower prices for better products.

     

    Let’s talk about why The Golden Rule is so important.  As you hone your craft, you have to keep in mind that you must always do the right thing for the client.  For some of us, it isn’t hard to always do the right thing.  It just comes natural.  Others might be tempted by greed.  Some find ways of spinning their own truths or rationalizing to make themselves feel better about what they choose to sell.  You may be able to get away with making a few sales this way, but it will catch up to you.  A reputation of being a salesman of low character will directly affect your income in a way that you’ll never make up for with sales skill.

     

    If you plan on making a career out of selling, you must blend these two important elements.  You have to be able to understand what your client wants and needs and be able to convince them to buy.  You also have to do so in the most scrupulous way.  One without the other doesn’t work.

     

     

  6. Perspicaciously Simple Speech

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    Perspicaciously Simple Speech

    Does your sales pitch sound like mixture of Pig Latin and a Dennis Miller comedy rant?  If so, you’re probably leaving business on the table.  Keeping it simple is the key great communication.

    Some salespeople insist on using every brain cell to craft the perfect sales pitch.  They design explanations for the logic and reason that supports buying their product using YouTube footage from the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee.  While it sounds great in their heads, essential information is not sinking in because the client’s brain is in turmoil.

    simple

    One of my favorite clients is a well aged Italian fellow who is a no nonsense, shrewd, somewhat intimidating self made millionaire.  About 10 years ago, I sold him the first of many insurance policies for his large estate planning need.  Even then, I knew more than most, but prepared for several hours for the meeting so I could pull back the curtain to explain to him all about the inner workings of the policy options I was recommending.  I also talked about ownership options, premium financing possibilities and the like.  Thankfully, he liked me just enough not to boot me from his office but instead scolded me.  “Stop!,” he said sternly, “I can tell you know what you’re talking about, but I’m not getting it.  Start over and explain it to me like I’m a child.”  Maybe I shouldn’t have put that in quotes since I edited all the swearing, but he was dead right.  I felt about two feet tall after he snapped at me.  I was wasting his valuable time.  He really only needed to know the essentials.  I gathered myself and gave him the info using simple language and sold him that first policy.  From then on, our meetings rarely lasted more than 20 minutes because I condensed all the information for him into its simplest form.  Wasting his time could have resulted in him changing agents or my waking to find a severed horse head in my bed, or both.  I have learned a lot as I have worked with him and his family over the last several years and I value those lessons.  Here are a few:

    Drop the industry jargon.  Just because the person across from you is nodding his or her head, that doesn’t mean they understand what you’re saying.  If they leave to “think about it,” it might be so they can google some of the words you were using.

    Use simple speech.  There’s no reason to use big words in a sales meeting.  It makes you sound like a phony.  Studies have shown that those who use large academic words  are regarded as having lower intelligence.  In other words, trying to sound smart makes you sound stupid.  By the way, Guetapens was the winning word in the 2012 National Spelling Bee.  Ironically, Guetapens could be used as a metaphorical substitution for “Sales pitch.”

    Focus on the result.   Mr. Client, buying my product will make you happier, healthier and wealthier.

    “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.” – Albert Einstein

  7. ROP Term, The Worst of all Life Insurance Policies

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    ROP Term, The Worst of all Life Insurance Policies

     

    I think I will get a little flack from this, but I’m feeling the need to blow the whistle on a life insurance product that is still being pushed by a lot of insurance agents out there.  I can find some positives in just about every kind of life insurance product, but right now, this is one that makes no financial sense.  In the past, this product design had some merit for some people and I have seen it work and sold it myself.  New insurance regulatory changes in actuarial guidelines have come through that make this product perform poorly.  Today, this product only makes up about 2% of term insurance that is sold, but I think it would be much less if the consumer knew the math behind it.  

    ROP term

    First, let’s examine why a consumer would find it desirable enough to buy.  In simple terms, loss aversion is the reason.  When we hear the salesman say “How’d you like to buy an insurance policy that gives you back all your premiums if you don’t die?,” it’s like music to the ears.  Naturally, this seems like a good deal and if the price is palatable, it could seem like the way to go.  That’s only if you didn’t have the rest of the story.  In a way, the sales line above is illustrative of the kind of doublespeak that gives life insurance salesmen a bad name.  Let’s see the numbers first and then we’ll adjust the sales pitch a little and see how it sounds.

    A 35 year old male can buy a $1,000,000 20 year level term policy at “Preferred” for about $600 per year.  A Return of Premium product would be about $2,500 per year.  At the end of 20 years, the entire $50,000 that was spent over that time would be returned to the policy owner.  But, if we invest the $1,900 per year difference, we only have to earn a 2.8% return over 20 years to create the $50,000.  If we achieve an 8% return with the same $1,900 per year over 20 years, we end up with $86,000.  So what is the opportunity cost?  On the surface, it looks like the opportunity cost is $36,000.  But, that isn’t the whole story.  In a ROP product, you have to make it to the end of the policy to get all your money back.  So, if you change bank accounts and your policy lapses, then you’re just screwed out of most or all the money you put in there.  You cannot actually calculate the opportunity cost of buying this type of policy, but it’s greater than just the interest rate difference.  Some might argue that the return in these kind of policies is guaranteed, unlike stock market returns.  This is true, but most who are buying this are in the younger ages and can take on the risk.  Even those who are skeptical about the stock market can outdo the ROP’s guarantees with annuities from the same company that is selling the insurance policy.

    I ran several scenarios and was able to find a few age/rate classes that could get the return into the low 3% range, over 20 and 30 years.  Many were in the mid 2% ranges.  I can’t see how inflation rate returns could ever be worth tying up any amount of money for that length of time.

    Here’s the adjusted sales pitch.

    “How’d you like to buy some well priced term insurance, plus tie up an extra $2,000 per year for the next 20 years at inflation rate returns, contractually guaranteed as long as you make that payment faithfully for the entire 20 years, otherwise we keep it.”

     

     

  8. The Puppy Mills of the “Financial Service” Business

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    Have you met any of these young go getters with their do-it-yourself bow ties, new shoes, briefcases, and sunglasses dangling around their necks?  Be careful Aunt Suzie.  They’ll corner you and awkwardly fumble their way through their best attempt at a sales presentation and guilt might just drive you to buy a bad version of something you sort of need.  How excited they must be, beginning their short lives in the “Financial Services” business through internships with the big boys of the Life Insurance business?

    I’m sort of kidding.  You’ll forgive me for my tone, won’t you?  The tragedy is that these young men and women, if taught properly, could be our next generation of real professionals in insurance.  And the industry needs them.

    I don’t think it’s a secret that no more than 1 out of 10 people (of any age) succeed in the Life Insurance business.  I recently read an article written by an AXA career agent who said he was one out of three remaining from a starting class of a thousand.

    I see two major problems that are keeping these recruits from succeeding.  The first problem is that these people get lured in under the guise of “Financial Services” meaning something other than Life Insurance.  Eventually, they figure out that the future set for them is not making a fortune by managing multimillion dollar portfolios, but selling the same 3 life insurance products to everyone.  By then, these agents have seeded their hierarchy with a few cases that will feed the beast for years to come.  What bothers me is that the system is really set up this way on purpose.  In other words, one of the marketing strategies of some companies is to recruit the family and friends of the eventual client.  

    The other thing that keeps new recruits from succeeding is that they have to start selling to clients too soon.  What’s normal is on the job training where the new agent is sent out to set meetings with as many people as possible within the first couple of weeks of being licensed.  Understandably the recruit fails to sell most attempts (other than Aunt Suzie).  This is what I call the Win Win Weeding Process.  The agencies are happy with the business they get and happy to have hired the few who make it.  There needs to be a much longer training and mentorship program where the recently licensed agents can spend their time learning while getting paid fast food type wages.  With few exceptions, I would say it would be smart for most new agents or financial advisers to stay away from clients for the first six months.  This time should be dedicated to sponging up as much knowledge as possible.  But, Imagine a recent college grad who is considering a career path.  How would recruiting work if the only promise you could make is that as a new agent, you’ll barely scrape by for the next couple of years and then maybe begin earning a decent living and if you bust your ass, you’ll achieve a 6 figure income in around 5 years?  That just wouldn’t gather much attention from most young people who are sick of ramen and ready for kobe beef.  Well, this kind of dedication and suffering is good enough for doctors.  Maybe that’s what these young people need to know.

    Here are the facts.  Life Insurance is a good business.  You can be your own boss.  Six figure incomes are the norm for people who stick it out and learn all they can.

  9. Southern Charm and Getting Permission to Ask

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    Southern Charm and Getting Permission to Ask

    By no fault of my own, I’m from the South.  I try to dilute the accent a little but people can easily tell.  I’m very lucky to have learned etiquette from my parents and grandparents.  Let me explain how some of the most important rapport building skills are a natural part of southern culture.

    Rhett-Butler

    I used to work for/with Tai Lopez, selling Life Insurance over the telephone and internet in one of his first business endeavors.  We had a large volume of opportunities due to his marketing genius.  Being less than a year into my career, I failed to sell many people who would be no problem for me now.  I was quickly however, far and away the best producer out of a company of 17.  The second best salesman at the time was my friend and business partner Brian Marshburn (also from the South).  For Life Insurance salespeople, we were very young.  We were in our early to mid 20’s at the time but we were doing very well, many times at the frustration of more seasoned and proven professionals.  I recall many of my interactions with these clients very fondly.  Sometimes people from up North would literally laugh at my accent and ask where I was from.  They would also ask my age.  Of course I would laugh along with them and continue to be nice.  I would talk about how the the person I spoke with 10 minutes earlier had asked the same questions and how I try to mask my accent, but it must be in the DNA or some other light joke about being from the South.  What I didn’t know at the time was that I was breaking down their wall with a very powerful and proven rapport building skill. Well, a couple, actually.

    -Telling something embarrassing about yourself.

    I am not at all embarrassed by being from the South, but joking with my new prospects about my struggles with my accent works at breaking down barriers.

    -Smiling, Which is an Accommodating Non-verbal.

    Though they couldn’t see me, if I was laughing, then I must have been smiling.  Smiling works, whether across the table or over the phone.  People can tell.  Smiling is a staple of Southern Charm.

    Once we got the jokes about my accent out of the way, I would give a little more background on my work experience and areas of expertise.  I would typically tell them how long a call with me usually takes.  Then I would ask permission to ask them a question.  Like this:  “Mr. Smith, may I ask you a question about the insurance you have now?”  Two more things happened here.

    -Establishing a Time Commitment.

    This is a powerful and overlooked technique for putting your client at ease.  If you tell your client that the call will usually take 30 minutes and it ends up being an hour, then your prospect will be thankful for the extra time.

    -Ego Suspension or Just Plain Being Humble.

    When you ask permission to ask a question, you are doing 2 things.  You are reducing or maybe eliminating the risk of intrusion.  Some questions can feel like an intrusion into your client’s private life, even when they’re pertinent to the conversation.  You are also demonstrating thoughtfulness, which is also a sign or trustworthiness.

    Ask For Permission by Pastor E.A Adeboye

    The next thing I would do is ask deepening questions.  How? When? Why? What if?  Then I would shut up and wait for the entire answer without ever interrupting, even if the prospect or client is off track.  Interrupting is rude.  In the south, we don’t like rudeness.  Most salesmen interrupt because they are trying to “correct” their client.  There is a better way to do that.  I would let the client talk as long as he or she was willing and take a note on everything that I needed to go back and address.  Then, only when they were done, I would go back to the key topic.  Like This:  “Mr. Smith, you said that your company is important to you, and you want your son to take your place in 5 years so you can retire.  What if you could accomplish that in 3 years?… What would happen if it took 7 years?”  You doing 2 more things here.

    -Listening.

    People can tell when you’re really listening, and not waiting for a chance to talk.

    -Validating.

    People want to be heard.  By repeating back to them what you are hearing and exploring the topic with more deepening questions, you are validating feelings and thoughts.  These things further build trust and importantly give you information you need to make a recommendation.

    After I had all the information I needed make a recommendation and ask for the business, I would then educate the client, using plain speech.  I would tell the client how insurance product worked and why.  I would tell them what others have done in their situation and pull back the curtain in the insurance industry.  I wanted them to feel like they knew more than any other consumer of Life Insurance.  Like this:  “Mr. Smith, most people don’t know how to do this, but we have a way of finding out if your old policy has higher mortality rates than a new one.  We just have to call the insurance company and ask them to generate a report with that information on there.  I can get them on the phone and do it now if you like.”  Here is what you’re doing for the client.

    -Gift Giving.

    Gift giving is a way of thanking your client for their time.  In the South, “Please” and “Thank You” very important.  Gifts do not have to come in the form or something physical.  Educating someone is a good gift.  Getting material from a client’s current company as above should come across as altruistic, even when it helps you sell something to your client.

    After all this, which may have only taken 30 minutes, I would have had enough to make the sale.  And the client was happy to offer me the business because they were getting a better experience from me than from any other insurance salesman they had encountered before me.  Thankfully, much of the above came natural and I was able to provide a good income for my young family.  Over the years, I have worked on these skills and many more that people in the insurance industry tend to ignore.  Having these skills will set you apart from the rest.  If these skills are taken seriously and are well practiced, even a 25 year old country boy from North Carolina can outsell scores of successful suit wearing career agents.

    One more thing:  All the stuff above works much better if you mean it.

    Kind Regards,

    Justin

     

  10. Curiosity Killed the Cat?

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    Curiosity Killed the Cat?

    Often as insurance agents, doctors, home builders or any other kind of professional, we accept the wisdom of others and put it to practice in our own businesses.  This can be a good tactic if you have a great source of knowledge.  In other words, you can always learn from peers in your business.  You can especially learn from people who have been doing great work over a long period of time.  You can also learn what not to do from others who are not experiencing the kind of success you want.

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    Why is this a good tactic?  Efficiency is the answer.  It is quicker to siphon off work skills from others, or plainly, to copy what other people are having success doing.  You can get a great base of knowledge this way.  A solid foundation of understanding is enough even to be able to get some good work done for your clients.

    You can’t stop there though.  In a changing world, you have to be curious enough to discover new things that work better.  We, as humans, have a natural curiosity.  It is somewhat suppressed by the education system (though not by individual teachers).  “It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.” Albert Einstein  We have to push past the urge to stop learning just because we are having success.

    What if, as an insurance broker, you have a good base of knowledge in sales skill and product design and you understand the need for insurance for most of your clients?  You could probably get business from as many as half the people you engage.  You could make a pretty good living this way.  Many agents do.  How would your life be different if you knew more about insurance than any broker in your town?  Your state?  Couple that with being able to understand your buyer better than anyone else in your area.  Now what would your life look like?  You would sell to almost everyone you engage.  This would mean more money for less work and professional satisfaction that is uncommon for any type of professional.  You simply cannot get to this level without curiosity.  That’s a good thing.  Most of your competition is not willing to ask those “Why” questions like a 3 year old information sponging toddler.

    Sometimes it takes a little reprogramming to get that curiosity back.  You have to start with an understanding that there’s a lot you don’t know.  Trust me, there’s a lot for everyone.  Once your curious mind starts working again, quality information starts getting easier to find.  When you start putting your newly acquired knowledge to practice, it can be incredibly rejuvenating, especially if you have had the same career for several years.

    “Curiosity Killed the Cat?”  What a ridiculous proverb!

    -Justin

Brevity & Associates

Brevity & Associates